Hollis Frampton  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hollis Frampton (1936-1984) was an American avant-garde filmmaker working in the structural film tradition. His best known work is Zorn's Lemma (1970).


He was born in Ohio, raised in Massachusetts, where he encountered the artists Carl Andre and Frank Stella with whom he became friends. As he moved on to university, his noted erudition was formed when he took a wide variety of classes without concern to any major or concentration. He recalled that when he was called in front of the dean, he was told the he had to take speech, western civilization, and music appreciation. He commented, "'I already know how to talk, I already know who Napoleon was and I already like music.' For that reason I hold no bachelor's degree. I was very sick of school."

In college, Frampton did a radio show focusing on poetry and then spent a year and a half in Washington, D.C. where he studied with the aging Ezra Pound. Moving to New York, he traveled in the artist circles of friends Andre and Stella. After a period of attempts at sculpture, he settled into photography. As Frampton's photography moved toward exploring ideas of series and sets, it was natural that he begin filmmaking. He based a lot of his early films on concepts, which he applied clearly and cleverly. All of his very early works were either discarded or lost. His earliest surviving work was Information (1966). His early works were reasonably simple in construction. A few of them including Maxwell's Demon, Surface Tension, and Prince Rupert's Drops were based on concepts from science, a subject he was well read on. As he got on, his films gradually increased in complexity.

After Zorns Lemma, he made the Hapax Legomena films, a series of seven films of which (nostalgia) is the most well known. Several of these films (nostalgia and Critical Mass) explored the relation between sound and cinema, an area often disregarded in American avant-garde film, by demonstrating a disjointed relationship between the two. Poetic Justice explores a "cinema of the mind", wherein the film takes place in the viewers' imagination(s) as they read title cards. An extremely rare artist book edition of Poetic Justice was printed by the Visual Studies Workshop.

His final major film project was a monumental project called Magellan, named after the explorer who first circumnavigated the world. Magellan was intended to be shown as a calendrical cycle, one film for each day of the year. One film from the cycle, Magellan: Drafts and Fragments, is exemplary of Frampton's ambition to create a personal "meta-history" of film; in Drafts and fragments, he remade the cinema of the Lumieres in 51 1-minute films. Although incomplete at his death, the body of films made for Magellan is significant. In some ways, Frampton's entire oeuvre seems to fit under the Magellan umbrella.

The last few years of his life, Frampton taught at SUNY Buffalo, writing, working on Magellan and ongoing photographic projects with fellow artist and wife Marion Faller, and investigating the relationship between computers and art. He did some initial work with video and sound reproducing with an Altair 8800 computer.

His writings on film are some of the most lucid and thrilling perceptions any artist has made on the cinema. Alongside Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton was a leading pioneer of abstract expression in American film, akin perhaps to John Cage and Morton Feldman in contributions to their art.

Frampton died of cancer in 1984.


  • Clouds Like White Sheep (1962) 25 min 16mm (reported destroyed)
  • A Running Man (1963) 22 min 16mm (reported destroyed)
  • Ten Mile Poem (1964) 33 min 16mm (reported destroyed)
  • Obelisk Ampersand Encounter (1965) 1:30 min 16mm (reported lost)
  • Information (1966) 4 min 16mm
  • Manual of Arms (1966) 17 min 16mm
  • Process Red (1966) 3:30 min 16mm
  • Heterodyne (1967) 7 min 16mm
  • Maxwell's Demon (1968) 4 min 16mm
  • Snowblind (1968) 5:30 min 16mm
  • Surface Tension (1968) 10 min 16mm
  • Artificial Light (1969) 25 min 16mm
  • Carrots and Peas (1969) 5:30 min 16mm
  • Lemon (1969) 7:30 min 16mm
  • Palindrome (1969) 22 min 16mm
  • Prince Rupert Drops (1969) 7 min 16mm
  • Work and Days (1969) 12 mins 16mm
  • States (1967, Revised 1970) 17:30 min 16mm
  • Zorns Lemma ( 1970) 60 minutes 16mm
  • Clouds of Magellan (1971) 16mm
  • Critical Mass (1971) 25:30 min 16mm
  • (nostalgia) (1971) 36 min 16mm
  • Travelling Matte (1971) 33:30 min 16mm
  • Appartus Sum (1972) 3 min 16mm
  • Given: . . . (1972) 28 min 16mm
  • Hapax Legomena (1971-1972) 3 hrs 22 min 16mm
  • Ordinary Matter (1972) 36 min 16mm
  • Poetic Justice (1972) 31:30 min 16mm
  • Public Domain (1972) 18 min 16mm
  • Remote Control (1972) 29 min 16mm
  • Special Effects (1972) 10:30 min 16mm
  • Tiger Balm (1972) 10 min 16mm
  • Yellow Springs (1972) 5 min 16mm
  • Less (1973) 1 sec 16mm
  • Autumnal Equinox (Solariumagelani) (1974) 27 min 16mm
  • Banner (1974) 40 sec 16mm
  • INGENIVM NOBIS IPSA PVELLA FECIT (1974) 61:30 min 16mm
  • Noctiluca (Magellan's Toys: #1) (1974) 3:30 min 16mm
  • SOLARIUMAGELANI (1974) 92 min 16mm
  • Straits of Magellan (1974) 51:15 min 16mm
  • Summer Solstice (1974) 32 min 16mm
  • Winter Solstice (1974) 33 min 16mm
  • Drum (1975) 20 sec 16mm
  • Pas de Trois (1975) 4 min 16mm
  • For Georgia O'Keeffe (1976) 3:30 min 16mm
  • Magellan: At the Gates of Death, Part I: The Red Gate (1976) 54 min 16mm
  • "Magellan: Drafts and Fragments"
  • "More Than Meets The Eye"
  • "Otherwise Unexplained Fires"

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hollis Frampton" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools